Observations and hypotheses related to low to middle free tropospheric aerosol, water vapor and altocumulus cloud layers within convective weather regimes: a SEAC4RS case study
The NASA Studies of Emissions and Atmospheric Composition, Clouds and Climate Coupling by Regional Surveys (SEAC4RS) project included goals related to aerosol particle life cycle in convective regimes. Using the University of Wisconsin High Spectral Resolution Lidar system at Huntsville, Alabama, USA, and the NASA DC-8 research aircraft, we investigate the altitude dependence of aerosol, water vapor and Altocumulus (Ac) properties in the free troposphere from a canonical 12 August 2013 convective storm case as a segue to a presentation of a mission-wide analysis. It stands to reason that any moisture detrainment from convection must have an associated aerosol layer. Modes of covariability between aerosol, water vapor and Ac are examined relative to the boundary layer entrainment zone, 0 ∘C level, and anvil, a region known to contain Ac clouds and a complex aerosol layering structure (Reid et al., 2017). Multiple aerosol layers in regions warmer than 0 ∘C were observed within the planetary boundary layer entrainment zone. At 0 ∘C there is a proclivity for aerosol and water vapor detrainment from storms, in association with melting level Ac shelves. Finally, at temperatures colder than 0 ∘C, weak aerosol layers were identified above Cumulus congestus tops (∼0 and ∼-20 ∘C). Stronger aerosol signals return in association with anvil outflow. In situ data suggest that detraining particles undergo aqueous-phase or heterogeneous chemical or microphysical transformations, while at the same time larger particles are being scavenged at higher altitudes leading to enhanced nucleation. We conclude by discussing hypotheses regarding links to aerosol emissions and potential indirect effects on Ac clouds.